Burna Boy Brought His ‘African Giant’ Energy to NYC’s Historic Apollo Theater
While the artist follows in the steps of fellow African acts Salif Keita, Sarkodie, and Black Coffee, who’ve all sold-out shows at the Apollo, he is the first Nigerian artist to have accomplished this feat. The storied venue has also hosted legends the likes of Fela Kuti and Miriam Makeba in the past. The occasion felt special—like a sort of cementing of the cultural influence of Nigerian pop. The seats of the close-knit space filled quickly as the night’s hosts entertained the well-dressed and energetic crowd with the usual Ghana versus Nigeria banter. The lively audience chose to ignore the theater’s signature velvety red seats in favor of standing and jamming out to the string of now decade-old “afrobeats” classics played by DJ Buka ahead of Burna’s arrival. A few openers later and Burna Boy hit the stage in a confident stride, triumphantly scoping out the jam-packed crowd before reaching down to meet fans’ expectant hands.